Independent senator Jacqui Lambie has criticized Labor and the Greens over their Industrial Relations Bill.
She has accused Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and minor party leader Adam Bandt of not supporting a women-led union branch.
The Tasmanian politician held an emotionally charged conference in Canberra on Thursday, criticizing Premier and Greens leader Adam Bandt for bowing to Victorian CFMEU Secretary of State John Setka.
The Senate will vote Thursday on the labor relations bill, which includes a controversial “right to disconnect,” or reject calls from bosses after hours.
Albanese and Industrial Relations Minister Tony Burke are supported by the Greens and independent senators David Pocock and Lidia Thorpe.
Independent senator Jacqui Lambie has put the Labor government and the Greens on notice in a fiery speech demanding greater support for a women-led organisation.
Senator Lambie will not support the bill, citing lingering concerns about small and medium-sized businesses, and an issue she has with the CFMEU.
He said Labor and the Greens should back an amendment that would allow a secret ballot for the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union to split from CFMEU Victoria.
“(CFMEU boss) John Setka runs the Labor Party,” fumed Mrs Lambie.
‘It’s sad that the Greens have allowed John Setka to infiltrate Adam Bandt’s office. I want all Green voters to know that.’
She said neither party could claim to be “for women” unless they passed her amendment to the government’s Industrial Relations Bill.
‘Give these women their rights,’ said Senator Lambie, ‘otherwise every time I walk into that chamber I will remind you that you do not stand up for women’s rights. You don’t care about women.
‘Where is Katy Gallagher (Minister for Women)?’
Jenny Kruschel, secretary of the union, said female members and staff felt “unsafe” at the CFMEU.
“We had to move our division out of the building and it’s a very uncomfortable environment,” Mrs. Kruschel said.
Lambie said the government had refused to back the secret ballot, leading her to question whether Setka was “running the Labor Party”.
‘You women, don’t you dare stand up and talk about women’s rights in that chamber, because as of today, in my opinion, your credibility has sunk.
“You are disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful.”
Lambie said thousands of women are part of this union, many of whom come from non-English speaking backgrounds.
He said they have the right to a secret ballot to take control of the union’s future.
Lambie said the government has “two hours to go back to the party room and rethink that, to support this amendment”.
Ms Lambie attempted to table amendments to allow the CFMEU’s manufacturing arm, TCFU, to hold a secret vote to separate from the main organisation.
He accused the government of backtracking on his request out of fear the Greens would withdraw their support for the IR bills.
Lambie also directly warned Bandt about his future as party leader.
“There have been rumors about his leadership for a long time,” he said.
“Maybe it’s time you took those murmurs seriously.”
In the Senate, Ms Lambie said of her amendment: “Who here could conscientiously vote against these women?”
‘If your party asks you to vote against this amendment, I want you to think about how you will feel if you betray these women.
‘All the passionate speeches I have heard in this place about domestic violence, how women should be empowered to take control of their lives, did you mean them and will you stand by your words for these women?’
“If, God forbid, after everything that’s happened here in the last three or four years you don’t defend these women, your credibility will go down the drain just like that.”